How to Make Keoke Coffee

Categories: Last Call

keoke-coffee-jk-grence.jpg
JK Grence
You know you're a native Arizonan when it's 60 degrees outside and your thoughts turn to wintry things. There I was, enjoying a late-night dinner on a restaurant patio after work when I got in the mood for a warm nightcap. Dinner was hearty, so coffee sounded good.

What should I have? The bartender told me they were perfecting an authentic Irish Coffee. Good on them; Irish Coffee is one of my favorite drinks, and it's often made carelessly. But that night, I was in the mood for something a little different. Maybe something with a touch of extra sweetness. I had it: Keoke Coffee.

See Also: How to Make Damn Good Irish Coffee

Keoke Coffee hails from, of all places, Southern California, at a place called Bully's Steakhouse. One night after the restaurant closed, the staff was fiddling with new drink recipe ideas. The owner, George Bullington, put together a blend of coffee, brandy, and Kahlúa, and gave it a cap of lightly whipped cream.

The staff loved it. The drink started out simply known as George's Coffee. Then, a cook from Hawaii suggested the name should be the Hawaiian version of George, "keoke." The name stuck, and the drink is one of the most popular coffee cocktails to this day.

As with Irish coffee, there's a bunch of small details that come together to make the difference between a decent Keoke Coffee and a great one. First, make sure the coffee is piping hot, and pre-heat your mug with very hot water before you make your drink. The right ratio of coffee to spirits is about 3-to-1, enough that you'll taste the booze but not so much that you'll be knocked flat on your keister by your first one.

The most common recipe for Keoke Coffee uses equal parts brandy and Kahlúa. To my surprise, while reading up for this article, I learned the original version also included crème de cacao. Sounds good to me. If you're wondering whether to use light or dark crème de cacao, trust me that it doesn't matter one bit. Both taste the same, and since you're pouring it into coffee, you won't be able to tell any difference in color, either.

Keoke Coffee
The more commonly accepted recipe is to use 3/4 ounce each of brandy and Kahlúa. It's delicious any way you slice it. For bonus presentation points, use a large mug, and stick a red-hot poker in the drink to heat it before adding the cream.
1/2 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce Kahlúa
1/2 ounce crème de cacao
4-5 ounces hot coffee
Lightly whipped cream for garnish

Combine spirits and coffee in a heated Irish coffee glass (or small coffee mug). Stir gently to combine. Pour cream over the back of a spoon to float on top of coffee. Garnish with a cherry, if desired.

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